The Spring 21 release is right around the corner and it's getting so big we're…
1. Salesforce Spring 21 Features – Lightning Sales Cloud, Einstein Sales Cloud, Manufacturing Cloud and Force
2. Salesforce Spring 21 Features – Service Cloud, Surveys and Service Cloud Einstein
Happy 2021 everyone. I hope all of you had a safe and happy New Year’s weekend – one of the only few good things 2020 did was put Christmas and New Year on a Friday so we can all have long weekends. It was definitely needed after that year. Like most of you, I’m happy to have 2020 behind us and focusing on 2021 – which includes the Spring 21 release. As we mentioned in our first post, we’re trying something a little different this time where we’re going to have slightly smaller core posts (Sales, Service, and Communities) and then a few tighter focused posts around the other products – like High Velocity Sales, Service Cloud Voice, Field Service and probably one other. Last week we did the Sales Cloud and platform post and now we’re jumping into my favorite cloud – Service Cloud.
Alright, let’s jump in. As always, the order is based on what I think is the coolest / biggest impact – so it might appear a bit random (I’ve never pretended to think normally). As with the past few releases, all of the features are assuming you’re on Lightning, but I’ll call out if a feature works on classic. I have my 2020 top Chill song playlist going (right now playing a great new song from Slovo) so I’ve got a good runway to write this. Here we go.
- Email to Case Threading Change – This was a big one that we covered in Winter 21 (it was one of our favorite new features). With Winter 21 all instances were moved to a new approach to threading email to case – essentially how Salesforce links replies to an existing case versus creating new ones each time. The new approach was using intelligence from the email header to determine this instead of leveraging that unique thread ID that we had previously had to insert into our emails (either in the body or the subject). It’s a great improvement. The problem is, it impacted existing Service Clouds more than Salesforce had expected, so they had to quickly re-add the old method to allow customers to keep it in place. With Spring 21, you officially have up to Winter 22 to move to this method. Overall, it’s a more secure and more efficient method so definitely something we all want. The problem is the transition for existing customers. Salesforce has a nice KB article that walks through the challenges for existing customers to make the move.
First, any replies to emails sent prior to Summer 20 (that’s July 2020) will create a new case and won’t match up. At this point, that is over 6 months ago, so if a customer is replying to an email that’s 6 months old, it’s going to be a one-off. This really shouldn’t be an issue anymore – but something to keep in mind when that one customer does decide to reply. Probably a much bigger consideration is if you’ve built a custom email service using Apex. This is something we’ve done quite a bit to really tailor matching logic and in particular, if we’re trying to parse the content within the email to more intelligently pre-populate the Case with information. These will need to be updated with the new method. The old method getCaseIdFromEmailThreadId will no longer work come Winter 22 and you’ll need to use the new method getCaseIdFromEmailHeaders. Basically, you’ll want to search all of your code for anything using the thread ID for matching. Third, it looks like this method is not compatible with emails sent via Email Notifications. I’m hoping this is something Salesforce adjusts prior to Winter 22 as that’s definitely a hole if you’re using this. You don’t want new Cases being created when customers reply to your notifications. If you use this, I’d hold off on enabling this and see what happens here. Finally, there is a bit of a weird bullet here: “Make sure the emails sent to Salesforce contain the correct required Threading headers for matching”. This is a bit of a tough one as we can’t control what our customers include in their emails they send to us. I don’t know what percentage of email services out there still don’t use this approach – my guess is all modern ones do – but you might have some customers (I’m thinking government ones that still use antique versions of Internet Explorer too) who might be leveraging some email clients that don’t provide this info. The problem is you might not know until you’re live, so once you’re live, it’s worth keeping a lookout for strange behavior from certain customers – and this is probably the problem. On something like this, you probably want to leverage your IT team to analyze the incoming headers and see what’s going on. Overall, this isn’t the no-brainer cut-over it looked like in Winter 21, we have about 9 months to make it though. This is one you’ll want to have a plan for and to babysit once you turn it on. Also, just to mention it – this applies to all Service Cloud instances – whether you are in Classic or Lightning.
- Other Email Enhancements – We get two other smaller enhancements to email to case with Spring 21. First is that BCC email addresses are now hidden in the email feed for Community / Experience users (It’s going to be a while before I get used to calling Community Cloud the new Experience Cloud). Previously, users within your self-service community could see if someone had been BCCed by the agent within the email feed and now that is hidden. Internal users will still be able to see this. Definitely a good thing. Second, we get a very nice improvement to Email Notifications. For – well, forever – any email notifications you sent were sent from firstname.lastname@example.org. Now, you have the ability to change that to use your own email address as the from address. Definitely something most existing companies will be happy to change over – but keep in mind, any replies to this will not related back to the case as per the above.
- Quickstart Entitlements & Setup Assistant – Entitlements has always been one of the more powerful and flexible features of Service Cloud – but, it’s also been a feature that isn’t the easiest to enable. Spring 21 includes default Entitlement logic which allows you to leverage prebuilt logic and then expand from there if needed. In most businesses, the default entitlements are all you need – if you have more advanced entitlements, which include Account or Asset specific entitlements, you’ll clearly need to build that out. All you need to do is turn this on to enable it and you’re off and running. In addition to the prebuilt Entitlements, we also get an expansion of the setup assistant that started in Winter 21. In a nutshell, these are guided tools that let you set up common Service Cloud features much quicker. With the latest updates, we now have assistants for the following Service Cloud functions: Chat and Messaging channels, Omni-Channel, Knowledge, Case Merge, and Case Status Automation. For those of you setting up Service Cloud on your own, this is definitely a big help.
- Knowledge & Einstein Article Recommendations Enhancements – Knowledge gets a few nice enhancements as well. First up, inserting an Article into an Email no longer blows away any files that you may have already had attached to the email. A bit more of a fix than a feature, but it’s nice to see this corrected. Second, when adding images to Articles, you can now add an alt text to the image. A really nice touch – especially for public KB’s – where you can have a caption when someone hovers over your embedded image. This was previously in Classic, but now we get it as part of Lightning Knowledge as well. Finally, the favorites functionality for Knowledge has been updated. Now, if you have an Article marked as a favorite, you will automatically be brought to the latest published version of that Article. Previously, the favorite was attached to the version at the time you set the favorite. Keep in mind, favorites only work for internal Salesforce users and they do not work with Community / Experience cloud. If you’re interested in allowing your Experience / Community users to be able to favorite Articles or even get automatically notified when an Article is updated, we have our AppExchange app Fave&Follow that does just that. Super easy to implement and a fixed price per instance makes this a no brainer.
Einstein Article Recommendations also gets enhancements. The coolest one is a new Model Scorecard that gives you a ton of insights into your recommendation model and areas where it might be able to be improved. Einstein requires a ton of information from both knowledge and your case history to recommend Articles effectively, and this model will show ratings on your model accuracy and quality and recommendations to improve them. It’ll show your overall term overlap between Cases and Articles (in theory, there should be a lot – any place where there’s no overlap means you either have Articles that are not having Cases created about their content or worse, Cases with no Article coverage. It’ll also show how well your Case fields that drive the recommendations are populated as well as how many case-article relationships you have (indicators that the article has helped solve a case). With all of these, it will give you a series of recommendations. Really cool feature and anyone who maintains knowledge will enjoy this. Finally, Einstein Article Recommendations can now support seven different languages. This was a pilot previously and is now in full GA. With Spring 21 you can now provide recommendations for Dutch, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish, and obviously English.
- Article Answers with Einstein Bots – This feature is a pilot, so you’ll need to contact your Salesforce AE to get it enabled. We don’t normally cover pilot functionality, but this is one I’m pretty excited about. Article Answers allows Einstein Bots to deliver a recommended answer from one of your knowledge articles if it doesn’t have a match for an intent. This is a nice fall-back and also allows much better support for when customers are asking questions that aren’t high volume intents that you’ve focused on. Typically, you’re building intents for the high volume questions – like the 80% of the traffic – but you still have the 20% which are the long tail questions and there could be hundreds or even thousands of those. Obviously, that is impossible to map out intents for, so the Article Answers fills that void nicely. Right now, this is tied within Einstein Bots – so within the messaging and chat channels. I’d love to see this expanded to be accessible within the knowledge search itself – essentially an AI concierge for knowledge. There are some stand-alone products that do that nicely out there and it’s an area Salesforce can catch-up in and I think this is a good start if it can be expanded. Overall though, very exciting new feature and looking forward to it moving to beta and GA.
- Einstein Bots New Features – Spring 21 brings a pretty long list of Einstein Bots new features (yay!) enough so that I debated doing a blog post just on this, but instead decided to just break it up with a bullet list. Just as a reminder, we just recently did a webinar on Einstein Bots where we showed a live demonstration and dove into a lot of the details around it. It was part of our Service Cloud Lunch & Learn Series from 2020 and you can check it out here. Here are your new Spring 21 features:
- Object Search – A super cool new feature (probably my favorite Spring 21 feature) called Object Search allows Einstein Bots to deliver data directly from objects within Salesforce. You can create action dialogs with the new type of “Object Search” and then determine what fields from the records you want returned based on the context of the question. A huge number of uses here. “What’s the status of my open cases”, “what’s the tracking number on my order”, “when is my order going to arrive”, “what is the time for my appointment” – all of these types of questions can be responded to with directly within Salesforce without having to build integrations or use code. Extremely powerful. For the responses, you can deliver up to three records within the conversation. Not sure if that means the entire conversation or in a single response within the conversation – I’m assuming within a single response, but could be wrong. This really allows you to harness the power of the data already in Salesforce and ramp up your self-service. Love it.
- Error Handler System Dialog – Errors will happen with bots – there is no avoiding it. The key is making sure the bot errors gracefully and not to ruin the customer experience in the process. Einstein Bots now has the ability to assign a default dialog to a bot when it runs into an error called the “error handler”. Now, you can provide a consistent experience – like an apology and an offer to transfer to a live agent – whenever your bots run into an issue.
- New Languages – Einstein Bots continues its language expansion. With Spring 21 Brazilian Portuguese, Dutch, and Russian are now GA and we get new beta languages for Danish, Korean and Swedish.
- Multi-Language Support for Input Recommender – In Winter 21 Salesforce released the insanely useful Input Recommender in Beta which allowed you to supercharge your intent modeling. Basically, you can put in the intent you’re trying to model and, based on your chat history, it would return a list of recommended utterances – a huge help when trying to first build out your models. Well, this appears to still be in beta, but multi-language support has been added for it. It will work for any of the languages Einstein Bots supports – however, you need the deep chat transcript history – at least 10,000 transcripts per language. Having that many transcripts by language might be tough for most companies, but Salesforce has been aggressively reducing the size of records needed for models across all of Einstein so hopefully, this is one that gets honed as well in the future.
- Build Intent Models with Less Utterances – Speaking of reducing the number of records needed for a model – the number of utterances needed before the bot can start identifying intent has dropped from 150 to 50. This improvement is huge as it greatly reduces the amount of data (and work on the admins part) to create intent models.
- Dialog Cloning – Cloning is never a bad thing (except in some science fiction, and maybe in real life involving shady stuff, but, I mean specifically within Salesforce) and Einstein Bots now gives you the ability to clone dialogs and dialog steps. Super handy when you have a bunch of dialogs that are similar but need to be tweaked. No more building each from scratch.
- Increased Metrics – It’s tough to build successful bots without data and metrics. As Salesforce has been continually doing since Einstein Bots was released, we get some new metrics with this latest release. We can now create standard reports & dashboards leveraging the Conversation Definition Sessions, Conversation Definition Dialog Daily Metrics, and Conversation Definition Hourly Dialog Metrics objects. All of these are part of the custom report types that need to be set up in advance. As part of this, the metrics that used to be within the Bot Performance Dashboard are no longer available.
- Chat & Messaging Enhancements – Above and beyond the massive Einstein Bots updates, the chat and messaging channels also had a few quick updates. The first is actually more like protection against yourself and takes away your ability to inactivate a channel. If you had a channel out there, previously making it inactive didn’t actually prevent customers that were aware of it from using it – it essentially just prevented your agents from receiving anything sent to it. Obviously, not ideal. Now, to truly inactivate a channel so that customers can no longer try to reach you with it, you just need to log a ticket with Salesforce. If you try to deactivate it yourself, you’ll get an error message. Messaging Templates receives the next update and you can now restrict templates to a specific channel. Especially as the range of messaging channels expands, templates might be very specific to a channel like Whatsapp or Facebook Messenger. Remember with Service Console, your agent experience is the same for whatever channel is incoming, so it’s easy to mix up what channel you’re responding in – so this will help make sure they don’t inadvertently send a Facebook Messenger specific template over SMS for example.
On the Chat side, Einstein Reply Recommendations gets a nice revamp that allows you to leverage it with even fewer transcripts. Previously to use this feature you needed at least 10,000 transcripts in your instance to build an accurate model, but now you can start the model with only 1,000 transcripts (remember, these need to be English transcripts – although a pilot is available with Spring 21 for 15 other languages). This makes this feature much more approachable for most customers as even though it doesn’t sound like a lot, 10,000 transcripts is a heavy volume for a lot of customers. It could take companies a year or more to get to that. Keep in mind, to use Einstein Reply Recommendations with Chat you also need the Service Cloud Einstein add-on.
- Service Cloud Voice Updates – Spring 21 is a pretty packed release for Service Cloud Voice – enough that we will do a focused blog on it. We should have that up in the next week or so and we’ll be sure to update this post. In the meantime, we ran a webinar on Service Cloud Voice with our Amazon Connect partner Symbee and went into a lot of detail about how it works followed by a live demonstration. Absolutely worth checking out.
- Service Cloud Voice Spring 21 Features: Coming Soon
- Introduction to Service Cloud Voice Webinar: Watch Now
- Surveys Enhancement – A good list of new enhancements to the Surveys product. A bunch of screenshots here, so I want to break this out into its own bulleted list. Keep in mind, the Surveys product isn’t part of the core Service Cloud, but is an add-on product based on the number of survey responses you receive. This product had a huge 2020 as far as new features and Spring 21 isn’t slowing down. Definitely worth evaluating for your survey needs and a great way to start is by checking out our webinar where we showed off how it works and all of the different features.
- New Survey Actions within Flow – Flow Builder now has pre-built actions that allow you to send Survey survey requests to leads, contacts, or users within Salesforce. Within the flow action, you can specify the template, subject, and recipient as well as set some of the survey parameters itself – such as an expiration date and if you want the responses anonymous. Nice to see this getting even more embedded and easier to setup.
- Rules Based Surveys – Surveys get a bit of a rules engine that allows you to send Surveys as a record is created or updated. The record can be any of the survey-supported objects and you can build rules that dictate when that record is created or even specify when fields are updated to certain values – and then what survey to be sent and to whom. These rules can also be done within the Customer Lifecycle Maps as well. This functionality, combined with the Flow actions above, really allows you to hone the optimal time to send surveys – and all with configuration. A sample survey trigger rule is below, which makes it a little easier to understand how it works. This is very cool.
- Embed a Survey in a Web Page – Super useful new feature here – you can now embed Salesforce Surveys directly to a web page and get feedback that way. It gets embedded as an iframe tag that your web team would need to add to a page. Sometimes right after an action on the website is the best time to ask a survey and this allows you to do it with your captive audience instead of trying to send an email and get a response later.
- Display a Progress Bar – We now get the option to display a progress bar across the top of the survey for recipients to see how far they have to go to complete it. When building the survey you have the option to display this or not (by default it is displayed), but for right now we don’t have the option to customize the bar itself. In the screenshot below, it’s the blue line. Overall, definitely a best practice to include this for anything beyond a page or two, so this is nice to see. The blue bar isn’t anything fancy right now, but it’s better than not having this and I expect we’ll get control of it in a future release.
- Add Validation Rules to Short-Text Responses – A handy update allows you to control a bit of the response recipients provide to your short-text survey questions. By default, no validation rule is entered, but you can set one that limits the response to a number or to a custom validation rule that you’d specify yourself with a formula.
- Send Surveys with an Alias – Instead of having to send the survey from a specific user, you can now send surveys leveraging an alias. This leverages the org-wide email address functionality. Having the survey coming from a more generic email versus a person should make the recipients feel more comfortable that they are filling out an anonymous survey.
- More Survey Metrics – Last but certainly not least, is a new set of dashboards for surveys called the Customer Lifecycle Map dashboards. These are actually part of Feedback Management – which is an add-on to Surveys – which really focuses on building out a feedback process around a customer’s entire lifecycle. These dashboards are part of Tableau CRM Analytics (the old Einstein Analytics) and look super slick. These will allow you to analyze your NPS and CSAT across various points in the customer lifecycle as well as the channel.
- Field Service Updates – Normally we’d be covering the Field Service updates here as well, but as I mentioned up top, we’re going to break that out into a dedicated post. Keep an eye out for it!
That’s Service Cloud for Spring 21. A lot of Einstein updates in particular and that email threading update is one that all existing customers need to review. We’ll have posts for Service Cloud Voice and Field Service coming shortly as well as our last big core post around the Collaboration features Experience / Community Cloud, Salesforce Anywhere (Quip), and Chatter. Just realizing now that post will be a re-branding nightmare to write out. Thanks for reading and as always, if you have any questions or want to get help with any of these features, reach out and one of our Solution Architects will get right back to you.